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NJ’s Older Pedestrians Getting Killed At High Rate [AUDIO]

Pedestrian fatality rates have been dropping in New Jersey, but a new analysis reveals the Garden State’s older pedestrian fatality rates are higher than the national average.

Flickr User Dave in the triad

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign report shows older pedestrians are far more likely to be killed while walking New Jersey’s streets than those under 60.

Janna Chernetz, New Jersey advocate for the Campaign explains, “While fatality rates dropped for all pedestrians, those walking and biking still remain vulnerable. From 2008 through 2010, 436 pedestrians lost their lives on New Jersey streets.”

Over that same three-year span, 130 pedestrians 60 and older were killed on New Jersey roads. Just under 19% of the state’s population is 60 and older, but that age bracket accounted for almost 30% of the total pedestrian fatalities. Those aged 75 years and older represent just 6.5% of the Garden State’s population, but slightly over 12% of pedestrian deaths.

In New Jersey, the pedestrian fatality rate for people 60 and older is over 1.8 times the rate for those younger than 60. People 75 years and older suffer a fatality rate that is 2.16 times that of their younger neighbors. Nationwide, the pedestrian fatality rate for older Americans is 1.52 times higher than the fatality rate for those under 60 years. The fatality rate for people aged 75 and older is 1.9 times that of younger Americans.

Matthew Norris, the Campaign’s South Jersey advocate says, “New Jersey’s streets are more dangerous for older pedestrians, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Low cost pedestrian improvements can make the streets safer for everyone.”

“The baby boomer population is aging,” says Chernetz. “New Jersey must make sure its streets are safer for older pedestrians.”

The report praises the state for taking a proactive approach to pedestrian safety by adding sidewalks to a portion of Black Horse Pike, one of the state’s most dangerous roads for pedestrians.

Over 26 New Jersey municipalities and 3 counties have enacted ‘Complete Streets’ policies that are designed to make sure that streets are designed or improved with the needs of all users, pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and drivers, in mind.

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is urging the state to pass a vulnerable users bill that would stiffen penalties for drivers who recklessly kill or injure pedestrians, bicyclists, highway workers, or state troopers, and, when funds become available, develop a ‘Safe Streets for Seniors’ program to make targeted improvements to roads that address the needs of older pedestrians, including improvements like longer crossing times and high visibility crosswalks.

The Campaign also recommends that the state should identify and fix some of its most dangerous intersections for senior pedestrians. To pay for pedestrian and bicyclist safety projects, the report suggests that New Jersey should commit to using the full allotment of its federal Transportation Alternatives funds.

Hudson County is Jersey’s most dangerous for older pedestrians followed by Essex, Camden, Passiac and Bergen Counties. Sussex, Cape May, Hunterdon and Salem Counties are tied for least dangerous. None of those counties documented a single elderly pedestrian fatality from 2008 through 2010.

The full report with county fact sheets and maps showing the locations of pedestrian fatalities throughout the region can be found on the Tri-State Transportation Campaign website.

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